About MSID—International Development in Ecuador
Learning from experience is the core of Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID). The program puts you in direct contact with the social and economic realities of actual communities and of people working within them to address complex problems. Through classes, field trips and an extended internship or research placement, MSID strives to establish a continual dialogue linking experience with theory and critical analysis. Learn more about the mission and educational philosophy at MSID Philosophy.
Few countries as small as Ecuador contain such remarkable geographic and biological diversity. Geographically, it ranges from coastal deserts to temperate mountain valleys to Amazon forests. Culturally and racially, its population includes a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African elements. The program is based in Quito, an Andean city that houses a remarkable combination of colonial and modern, rich and poor. Internship sites are scattered within a three-hour radius of Quito.
For help deciding between Spanish language options, consult the Spanish Language Programs Comparison Chart (PDF).
Housing & Meals
You will live with a homestay family throughout your time in Ecuador. Students who choose an internship or research placement outside of Quito will have a second homestay placement.
Homestay families provide breakfast and dinner daily; you will be responsible for providing your own lunches. Host families can typically accommodate a variety of dietary needs, but if you have severe food allergies and/or restrictions, contact the program team prior to applying.
Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience, and often a highlight for participants. Your family provides not only housing and most meals but also a vital connection to Ecuadorian culture. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Ecuadorian life with an MSID program participant.
Although excursions change from semester to semester, students can expect to visit a variety of sites that may include local markets, development agencies, and other areas of interest around Quito.
Coordinated Group Flight
The Learning Abroad Center works with Village Travel, a local travel agency, to arrange a coordinated flight for program participants. The flight is optional, and is arranged for those who want to fly with other program participants. Group flight information is typically available by the program application deadline, if not before.
Ground transportation from the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (airport code: UIO) into Quito is provided by our partner organization and the cost is included in the program fee. The transportation schedule aligns with the group flight arrival time. Our partner organization comes to the airport once to collect everyone.
Therefore, you can either book a ticket on the coordinated group flight, or book a flight independently that arrives prior to the group flight's arrival. If you arrive late and miss the group, you may be responsible for arranging and paying for your own transportation into the city.
For immigration purposes, you should purchase a round-trip ticket, since you must be able to show your entry and exit dates from Ecuador.
- Foster an understanding of the global context through classroom and experiential learning
- Cultivate awareness and appreciation for development issues through engagement with diverse communities
- Translate insights gained into thoughtful and respectful long-term perspectives on concepts of social justice and sustainable development
- Strengthen communication skills through acquisition of local languages and cultural awareness
- Gain cross-cultural competencies through extended engagement at a local grassroots organization
Faculty & Staff
A team of dedicated Ecuadorian staff based in Quito work to ensure that your MSID experience is safe, academically enriching, and rewarding.
Pictured above, 1st row: Solange Paez (Secretary), Verónica Catuacuamba (Accountant), Dolores López and José Suárez (Program Directors), Emilia Castelo and Natalia Céspedes (Academic Coordinators), Janet Barros (Research Assistant).
2nd row: David González (Messenger), Carlos Travez (Researcher), Vicente Pintado (Janitor), Danilo Mastínez (Research Assistant), Franklin de la Cruz (Researcher).
Program Directors, José Suárez and Dolóres López
José Suárez is Executive Director of Fundación Cimas del Ecuador, a development-focused nonprofit organization in Quito. Dr. Suárez received his MPH and PhD degrees in public health from the University of Minnesota. A physician and epidemiologist with extensive community experience, he has authored research studies and books about health and environment in Ecuador, participated in many international and national committees, and served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization and Ecuador’s Ministry of Health. In addition to his extensive experience working with North American students and academic programs—including MSID since 1989—Dr. Suárez has taught at the University of Washington, Evergreen State University, and the Medical School of the Universidad Central del Ecuador.
Dolóres López is President of Fundación Cimas. She studied Anthropology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) and holds a bachelor's degree from Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in Social Science and Ecuadorian Studies from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Quito. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Latin American Cultural Studies Doctoral Program at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito. She has conducted research on social and cultural population issues; gained practical experience in working in indigenous and peasant communities; and organized local, national, and international conferences. In recent years she has been deeply involved in intercultural research projects and actively participates in community-based processes to identify alternatives for development. She has worked with US students and study abroad programs for many years, including MSID since 1989.
All MSID courses are taught by Ecuadorian faculty who are experts in their fields.
About the Learning Abroad Center
Learning Abroad Center programs are:
- Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
- Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
- Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
- Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.